The electoral battle in West Bengal is turning out to be one of the most intense in recent times. On one side is the incumbent, Mamata Banerjee, who has been the chief minister since 2011, and on the other, the marauding challenger, the Bharatiya Janata Party, who till now had a fledgling presence in the state. For her, it is a fight for survival, since the BJP is well funded, and is led by Narendra Modi with Amit Shah, both formidable at campaigning.
But this is more than about politics. Bengal is undergoing a social transformation and many of its cherished traditions are falling prey to the Hindutva of the BJP and the RSS.
Dr Ranabir Samaddar, a political scientist who has long observed the state and its shifts, says this fight is about culture. “Cultural battles are going on everywhere,” he says in this podcast interview with Sidharth Bhatia. He thinks that will play a role but whatever the political outcome, those conflicts will continue to take place.